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The Olympics is only two days away now, and LOCOG has undertaken a well-publicised crackdown on non-sponsors’ attempts at guerrilla marketing.

However, new data from Experian shows that the overzealous approach to protecting the rights of official sponsors may have backfired.

As of last week, the Olympics was the third most visited sports category online behind football and cycling, while the average time spend on an Olympics website stands at six minutes 33 seconds.

The added interest in the games had rubbed off on official sponsors, which have seen a 15% increase in traffic year-on-year.

For some brands the increase has been even greater, with traffic to McDonalds’ UK website increasing eightfold in the four weeks ending 14 July 2012. Adidas and Visa saw a 21% increase in the same period.

But following the media attention around Seb Coe’s suggestion that fans wearing Pepsi t-shirts might be turned away from the Olympic Stadium, non-sponsors experienced a boost in traffic.

Visits to Pepsi.co.uk increased 53% on Sunday after declining 30% in the five weeks to 21 July, while on the same day traffic to Coca-Cola’s corporate site fell by 69%. 

Showing a similar trend, web traffic to Nike.com, which had fallen 1% in the previous five weeks, saw a 16% increase in traffic on Sunday while Adidas.co.uk experienced a 20% fall in visitor numbers. 

Obviously it is impossible to say if the publicity around Seb Coe’s comments were a direct cause of the traffic spikes, but it is interesting to note the correlation.

No doubt the performance of official sponsors in search traffic and on social media will be closely scrutinised during the games and it’s likely that guerrilla marketing tactics will have an impact. 

But it appears that the policing of non-sponsors has given them a timely PR boost before the Olympics have even started.

David Moth

Published 25 July, 2012 by David Moth @ Econsultancy

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

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Comments (1)


Paul Keers

There is a long history of brands exploiting regulators in order to get increased publicity.

I'm thinking of the Benetton ad campaigns, for example, which almost wilfully set out to offend and to get "banned" by the ASA, in order to obtain far greater publicity than permitted advertising would ever have achieved.

The success of "banned" pop singles, movies and books (that terrible Spycatcher memoir we all smuggled back from Europe...) all similarly demonstrate how products can actually benefit from the heavy hand of regulation.

almost 5 years ago

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